January 29, 2011

Cake - Showroom of Compassion

A handful of albums have lived up to high expectations so far this year, but Cake has provided mixed results.

Their first LP in six years, Showroom of Compassion soars past 2004’s Pressure Chief and challenges their excellent 2001 Comfort Eagle for the some of their best work. Lead vocalist John McCrea continues to write songs in his conversational register. Thus, it’s safe to say that Showroom is no lyrical masterpiece. However, the band is tight. Harmonies, guitars, and drums blend very well. Since they rarely have a killer solo part, it is easy to admire Cake’s songs as one unified piece of music with no divisions between melody and harmony.

The album really kicks off on Long Time, a song whose funky bass and great harmonies make it hard to put Showroom of Compassion down. Mustache Man (Wasted) is a perfect example of everything Cake can achieve with brass, handclaps, and an unforgettable hook. There’s more to enjoy on Teenage Pregnancy and Sick of You before Easy to Crash, a song that tiptoes along the fine line between a tune that is perhaps is a little too poppy and song that sounds like disgusting radio-playlist fodder. It’s an odd moment for Cake, a band that has managed to avoid sounding normal and boring for so many years. The album isn’t devoid of filler as the final couple songs are mediocre at best.

To try to avoid using cake as a metaphor would be impossible. Like an average slice of cake, Showroom of Compassion is light and enjoyable in places but also tends to be bland as a whole. The quality of the songs is inconsistent and the vocals are a bit boring, making Showroom of Compassion a just a little bit more than an average album.


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